A Simple Gift: Challenges + P.L.A.Y. As a Path Forward


Passing forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage everyone on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂


There are times in our lives when our learning may not be directly chosen by us, rather it arrives at our doorstep in the form of a challenge. A challenge we’d rather skip altogether and detour around it as we can see that it may involve pain and sadness.

However, it is up to us to see it as an opportunity. To accept the challenge as difficult as it may be and approach it with curiosity, compassion, and yes even at times to approach with the essence of play to keep up our spirits and provide momentum through the darker moments.

Hidden Hearts: Love infused spring Landscape

When we are able to proceed from this place of curiosity, compassion, and play we are embracing the essence of wholeheartedness. From this place the work of this journey unfolds into a path forward and typically we are all the wiser for it.

I have had the good fortune to engage and put into practice P.L.A.Y. -Passionate Learning All Year with the intentional farming community my family lives in for the past 8+ years. We have had our share of challenges navigating tricky waters determining our path forward and coming to an understanding of what that truly means for each individual as well as for the community as a whole. And while we may not have all the answers and solutions we continue to make connections and strive to work together throughout the journey.

Hidden Hearts: Love revealed on the spring Landscape

To approach challenges with equally as much passion and effort as we can muster to see us through is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and our loved ones.

During these challenging times, when the world seems upside down, what I know to be true is that if we lean into connecting with nature, getting outdoors for fresh air and a boost of vitamin D, and include moments of P.L.A.Y. on our “to do” lists (or better yet our “to be” list) we will get through whatever comes our way and we will discover insights into our own true nature in the process and be all the wiser as we discover “What is this here to teach me?”

Sending a smile and wishing you and yours much peace and wellness,

Karen ;0) 🙂

*For more support and inspiration visit Simple Gifts & Smiles articles HERE

BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapter 15 History


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Category – Homeschooling + Unschooling search tab on the right side of this page or linked HERE.

In Chapter 15 – History & Current Events Laura covers more of what some folks would view as the “academic subjects” of homeschooling. She is quick to point out how history is linked to you and your family in so many different ways including through beliefs, attitudes, ideas, and interests and that exploring history is relevant and essential.

Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience engaging with the study of history and the resources we used on our journey.


~Reflections~


History – Making Connections Through

Curiosity & P.L.A.Y.

Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures.

Connecting to history by reading stories of what has come before us can be fascinating, insightful, and provide context for how we live our lives.

The focus being on reading history about the lives of real people in real situations sharing the truth of their experiences throughout time including current events (history in the making).

Our family has spent countless hours listening to audio books, in the car and at home, to cover both fictional entertainment (hello Harry Potter – we love Jim Dale! ) and to cover the centuries of historical stories that have taken place before our existence.

We listened to Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of the World series volume by volume as was age appropriate for our two kiddos. And when I say we listened I am including anyone who was in the vicinity, parents or grandparents. This provided the opportunity for multi-generational conversations and plenty of questions to bubble up. And it is worth noting often times we learned more from asking questions of ourselves and each other then always seeking the answers. Over time we made connections and as we re-listened to each volume at new ages + stages our understanding grew and so did our list of more meaningful questions.

And, as is often the case, both Susan Wise Bauer’s World History and Joy Hakim’s US History series were not necessarily covered 100% as both of my kiddos found the sections on war to be fatiguing. We made use of what had meaning for us and moved on when it no longer suited us. For example, KIDS Discover Magazine with their brief, engaging, and concise articles on so many topics helped cover the areas on war (and many other topics) more succinctly.

This was all coupled with a long list of non-fiction picture books, non-fiction and historical fiction chapter books (love Laura Ingalls Wilder!), plenty of documentaries viewed, museums visited, games played, and news watched which provided a nice broad base of context to build on (even to this day!)

Now that my kiddos officially have both feet planted in the “adult world”and continue to live at home we also continue to learn from each other with curiosity and P.L.A.Y. especially in the “history in the making realm” while we listen to the news on the car radio or watch clips of monologues online together. And often I will find that they have broadened their understanding of Planet Earth and the inhabitants on it and are well equipped to share their valued opinions backing them up with context they have picked up along the way and engaging me with new information to make connections on my own P.L.A.Y. journey.

Many wonderful full circle connection moments, history related and more, really do occur with time and patience. And as I can now attest to parents this is a P.L.A.Y.-filled gift worth waiting for! En-JOY-able!

As this series wraps up you can find Chapter 16  HERE.

Compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


Susan Wise Bauer –

The Story of the World – a 4 volume set of World History in story format for kiddos+families  (audio/book/workbook options)


Joy Hakim – 

The History of US – an 11 volume set of USA History in story format for kiddos + families (paperback books)


DK Eyewitness – Resource Books – variety of topics


 

KIDS Discover Magazine – History/Biographies/Science (print titles & online)


Who was? a biography series published by Penguin Book Group


Travel back in time with historical fiction series like these:

Mary Pope Osborne – The Magic Tree House (ABOVE)

Laura Ingalls Wilder – Little House on the Prairie (BELOW)


Scholastic Series – Everything You Need to Know About American History Homework


There are *OODLES* of awesome, engaging, inspiring picture and chapter books both in fiction & non-fiction formats.

Simply make it a  practice to visit your local library OFTEN(!) to take you worlds away to P.L.A.Y.!


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and join the play-filled journey today!


 

BOOK LOOK – In a Nutshell by Joseph Anthony


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


In A Nutshell

by Joseph Anthony


Karen’s short + long of it with P.L.A.Y.ful story preview & P.L.A.Y.-filled activity adventure suggestions.


P.L.A.Y.ful story preview (short):

Noticing in Nature in a Nutshell

Acorn: Adventure of a Lifetime

Collecting Connections

P.L.A.Y.-filled activity adventure suggestions (long):

  • Challenge: Select one thing in nature and learn about the life cycle adventure it goes through. Example: Plant, Rock, Brook, etc.
  • Super Challenge: What are the changes or transformations this natural item goes through? Over how long – days, months, years? What does it look like? Perhaps draw the cycle in your Nature Adventures journal.
  • Super-Duper Challenge: What connections do you see to other things in nature during the transformation process of the item you are studying? Any surprises? Example: In the story the cherry tree is linked back to the oak tree and acorn.

Capkins LOVE to be read to – especially P.L.A.Y.-filled nature themed story books!

  Be sure to visit and support your local library! ❤ ❤ ❤


BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapters 4, 5, 6


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschooling, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth owning this volume to revisit again and again for both support and inspiration.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Category – Homeschooling + Unschooling search tab on the right side of this page or linked HERE.

Or find reviews at these links – Chapter 1 (HERE), Chapter 2 (HERE), Chapter 3 (HERE), and continue the conversation below with Chapters 4+5+6.

In Chapter 4 – Connecting with Others, Chapter 5 – Collaborating Benefits Everyone, and Chapter 6 – Homeschooling Changes Everything Laura lists a wide range of ways for families, kiddos, and adults, to connect with one another on their learning journey. From friendships to homeschool groups, elders to interest based gatherings, accessing communities online to the number one classic homeschool gems – meeting folks at the library or local park, there are countless ways to associate and bond with people both near and far.

Best of all when you finish these three chapters you will have the answer to the most asked question of homeschooling folks “what about socialization?

Spoiler Alert – This myth of socialization deficit is debunked over and over again as you read these three chapters. Life long learners are actually more often fully engaged as social beings since they have the time to access and engage with people of all ages, at any time, in their own time and way, and in a wide range of locations. Our culture makes this an issue only because the life learning practice does not fit in the standard education system box and so it is simply an unfamiliar way for folks. Once you step into the homeschooling/unschooling arena and experience all it has to offer socialization becomes an obvious non-issue. Period.


~Reflections~


 Connections – All Ages, Any Time 

Now that our family is 20+ years into this life learning lifestyle I can candidly reflect on the myriad of ways that I have witnessed and experienced kiddos connecting to kiddos, kiddos connecting to adults, and quite simply people connecting to people!

Local Children’s Chorus singing at Eric Carle Museum -2008-

Our journey of making connections, human to human AND human to animal (equally as important), on a daily or weekly or monthly routine has included:

* =weekly          ** =monthly          *** =Bonus 24/7 daily access

*Neighborhood play group – parents & kiddos

*Library story time, programs, and volunteering

*Nature walking group affiliated with Roots & Shoots

*Archery lessons & mentorship & earning a coaching certificate

*Art Teen program

*HS Co-ops run by parents with classes from dance to meditation, astronomy to computer technology, felting to Olympic celebration, etc.

**Membership in state wide butterfly association

*Ice skating at local university (bargain daytime pricing)

*Children’s chorus & later college community chorus (at age 15 )

*Science project & play program w/ 3 homeschool families covering biology + environmental studies

*Local park gatherings run by homeschoolers: from carpentry to gym class, book club to barter days.

*Community College blended classes – mushrooms to hip hop

*Mentoring on the care & ownership of goats and raising ducks

***Online communities & social media (interest based) making connections around the world with lasting friendships as one of many by-products

*** Living in our home of 3 generations for 10 years

*** Living & participating in intentional farming community 8+ years – ongoing

Truth be told this is actually just a sampling(!) of the many ways and opportunities our family has had the chance for connection with a host of communities large and small. And regardless of the outcome, short lived moments or long term lasting relationships, there was learning and growth to be had in every one. They were all of value and all required social engagement to varying degrees.

And throughout our days engaging with these opportunities we operated as a family unit honoring each member of the family and acknowledging they had a voice and a choice. When parenting moments arose that felt like a struggle I had to remind myself that this was a time to self reflect and ask “what is this here to teach me?”. And more often than not it was quite clear that I was just here to guide my children and it was the kids who were the true teachers if I was simply present to receive this gift.

Connecting to family while connecting to a wide range of community learners is a wonderful process if we are able to be present and embrace the life lessons that make for a very full-filling P.L.A.Y.-filled  journey.

Chapter 7, 8, and 9 in this series can be found HERE.

As always, compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below that I highly recommend and have used to inform my life learning experiences as a parent and as a human learning to live cooperatively with family, community, and daily people-to-people connections.

Support your local library and request these books!


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


Katrina Kenison –

The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir (my future review here)

Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment (my future review here)

 

Dr. Shefali Tsabary –

The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children (my future review here)

The Awakened Family: How to Raise Empowered, Resilient, and Conscious Children (my future review here)

 

Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles (my future review here)

Raising Your Spirited Child (my future review here)


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and join the P.L.A.Y.-filled journey today!


 

A Simple Gift: Problem=Situation=Opportunity


Passing forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage everyone on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂


A problem is simply a situation that provides an opportunity for P.L.A.Y.!

Think about it . . .

When a problem comes up it really is just a situation that is asking to be looked at. It is usually not intended to be a stressor, it is simply a learning opportunity.

You have the opportunity to be present with the situation, <breathe in><breathe out>, see it from all angles and all possibilities, and even tinker and play with it.

Then you can simply decide to solve it, step away, revisit it, let it rest, engage help from others, or pick a host of other options.

This is P.L.A.Y. at its best providing you with another simple gift to learn and grow from on your life long journey.

Wishing you and yours many wonderful *problems* *opportunities* on your P.L.A.Y.-filled path!

Sending smiles,

Karen ;0) 🙂

❤ ❤ ❤